Bangalore Court Vacates Order Restraining 'The Wire' From Publishing Article Against BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar
A Bangalore City Civil Court has vacated the ex-parte order of interim injunction passed against online news portal "The Wire" restraining it from publishing an article against BJP MP Rajveev Chandrasekhar.
The injunction order was passed two years ago, in a defamation suit filed by Chandrasekhar against 'The Wire' for publishing an article titled "In Whose Interests Our Soldiers March?".
The article had alleged conflict of interest on the part of Chandrasekhar in him being a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, as he had substantial stake in defence manufacturing companies. It had suggested that Chandrasekhar stood to profit from an expansion of Indian military spending, and criticised his public view to adopt an aggressive military approach against Pakistan.
The author of the article Sachin Rao, along with the founding editors of the portal Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and M K Venu were made defendants in the suit filed for damages on the ground that the article had severely damaged his "impeccable reputation in the eyes of public"..
The article was taken down from the site after the court passed exparte ad-interim order on March 2, 2017.
The defendants later filed objections stating that the article was based on information available from public records, and pointed out that the plaintiff had not disputed its factual correctness. It was further stated that the article served public interest as it revealed a potential influence of the plaintiff's business interests in shaping his stance as a parliamentarian on defence.
Considering the arguments, Additional City Civil and Session Judge Ravindra Joshi said ""The relief sought by the plaintiff at this stage cannot be considered, because press is considered as 4th pillar of constitution. The press is functioning as watch dog of the Constitution. It is the duty of the press to create public opinion about the policy of the Government etc., The right of the press is protected under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India"
"If the press is restrained from publishing any information about the public or public servants, it amounts to curtailing the right of media person from discharging his duties", noted the Court in the order passed on February 26, but released today.
It found that there was no prima facie case material to show that the article was defamatory to the Chandrasekhar. "The plaintiff has not made out any prima facie case or balance of convenience in his favour for grant of injunction as prayed", held the court while vacating the order.
Following this, the portal has uploaded the article again.
It is understood that Chandrasekhar has appealed to the High Court against the order.